Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790) was serious about self-improvement. So much so, that he famously created a sophisticated daily log as a way to grow in various virtues. These virtues, which he impressively set down at the age of 20, are listed below. His descriptions of each virtue are on point, and worth pondering.
- Temperance: Eat not to Dullness. Drink not to Elevation.
- Silence: Speak not but what may benefit others or your self. Avoid trifling Conversation.
- Order: Let all your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time.
- Resolution: Resolve to perform what you ought. Perform without fail what you resolve.
- Frugality: Make no Expence but to do good to others or yourself: i.e. Waste nothing.
- Industry: Lose no Time. Be always employ’d in something useful. Cut off all unnecessary Actions.
- Sincerity: Use no hurtful Deceit. Think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
- Justice: Wrong none, by doing Injuries or omitting the Benefits that are your Duty.
- Moderation: Avoid Extremes. Forbear resenting Injuries so much as you think they deserve.
- Cleanliness: Tolerate no Uncleanness in Body, Clothes or Habitation.
- Tranquility: Be not disturbed at Trifles, or at Accidents common or unavoidable.
- Chastity: Rarely use Venery but for Health or Offspring; Never to Dullness, Weakness, or the Injury of your or another’s Peace or Reputation.
- Humility: Imitate Jesus and Socrates.